It’s October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re asking the ladies to self-check yourself. Finding a mass can be scary — and it’s even more stressful and difficult for people who have naturally large and lumpy breasts in the first place.
The kind of breasts you have is determined by genetics. Having lumpy or smooth breasts is just like having large or small ones: it’s out of your control and often not a cause for concern. While having a pair that’ unique to you is perfectly normal, cancer checks can be harder for people with lumpy breasts. If you notice that your breast tissue feels bumpy or even rope-like, you may be one of the many people who have been dealth with this genetic card.
If you have lumpy boobs and are afraid to do a self-exam, you are certainly not alone. Here, experts share how people with lumpy breasts can conduct at-home exams and what to look for when they do.
This article was originally published on Huffpost’s Busted section.
1First, be aware of how your breasts look and feel.
For people with larger breasts, knowing when a lump is normal or abnormal can be challenging. To determine how your breasts should feel, we recommend that you conduct an at-home exam within a month of a breast exam by a physician or after a mammogram indicating that everything looked OK.
If you do an at-home exam when you have a clean bill of breast health, you’ll know what lumps and bumps are normal for your boobs. So, when you conduct checks in the months and years to come, you’ll be able to recognize if any lumps pop up that aren’t normally present.
2Check a few key places during your self-exam.
Though knowing your boobs is more important than conducting an at-home exam in one specific way, some tips can make your self-check more effective.
First, lift up the arm closest to the breast that you’re checking. Feel all around, including the center area.
Lastly, don’t end right at the boob; you’ll want to check your armpit, too. Armpits have lymph nodes that can become enlarged in people with breast cancer. In such cases, those lymph nodes feel firm. Normally, lymph nodes are soft.
To check your armpit, put your hand on your hip on [the] side [you’re checking]. You can use your other hand to fill in your armpit.
3Don’t perform your self-exams during your period.
Many people report that their breasts feel especially tender right before and during their period. So, doing your breast exam may be painful at these times.
So, it’s best to wait for your period to end before you do a self-exam.
Try to perform self-exams at the same time every month, and having a set routine for the check may be helpful. You could consistently do your exam in the shower, in bed or in front of a mirror. That way, you’ll eventually get into a groove and know exactly how your boobs should feel in a particular position.
4If you do feel a concerning lump, talk to your doctor.
Lots of women have lumps in their breasts. When breast cancer is palpable, it’s firm. A concerning lump should almost feel like a pea in mashed potatoes.
If you think what you’re feeling may be abnormal but are not sure, don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor. It’s absolutely better to be safe than sorry in this situation. Plus, experts agree that it’s hard for women to know the difference between something that’s OK and not OK.
In the end, if you have any doubt, you shouldn’t assume that what you’re feeling is normal. Your doctor is there to help you and will likely be happy that you brought a potential abnormality to their attention.